Adam Fields and his team at Arta Shipping built a white-glove shipping infrastructure from the ground up. Arta was created especially for buyers and sellers of high-end goods like art pieces and sculptures, whose purchases must be handled with special care in order to be shipped.
In our latest Origins episode, Adam talks about what inspired him to start Arta, what it was like to build an API infrastructure, and how to strike the right balance between logistics services and technology.
The birth of Arta Shipping
Adam grew up in a home where culture and art were praised. Later, he and his colleagues were interested in the idea of being art collectors--and teaching the next generation of collectors.
“My contemporaries had an interest in these types of things, but didn't really know how to activate and engage that interest,” Adam says.
He was part of the founding team for an e-commerce business called ArtSpace.com, an attempt to make it easier for aspiring collectors to collect art. But the project ran into roadblocks when it came to actually shipping the purchased pieces to buyers.
“The hard part is containing the transaction online and getting those items from point of purchase to to to your customers,” he says.
“Our sellers would get drop ship labels from us, but they would call me and say, ‘You know, you can't ship this item like this. The customers want professional packing and shipping insurance.’”
Adam realized there must be a solution for these complicated logistics issues. He decided to build an infrastructure around these needs, and Arta was born.
Consolidating supply chain through a custom API
Arta is an API and logistics platform for global logistics and services centered around high-end goods that must be handled with extra care. The service allows buyers and sellers to consolidate their logistical resources in one place.
Adam’s biggest challenge was realizing that an underlying infrastructure must be built before he could even create an API. It took his team a few years to gather all the data they needed to act as both a logistics and pricing merchant for their buyers and sellers.
“We weren't building an API that tapped into existing infrastructure like FedEx or UPS,” Adam says. “We were actually building the infrastructure ourselves, across a very fragmented carrier base.
“The fact that we were able to get enough coverage and data to make rates instantaneous for us is a pretty big deal.”
The one skill founders in our industry should have
Adam says, to be successful, founders in the supply chain industry must have self-awareness that inspires empathy and insight into what their customers need.
“It's all about putting yourself in the shoes of your customer, vendor, or employee,” Adam says. “You need that self-awareness and empathy to truly understand things.”
The self-awareness component holds true when it comes to knowing what makes you different in the marketplace. It also helps founders and industry leaders determine what they need to focus on improving, based on what stage their company is in.
“Depending on where you are and the maturity of your company, focus on different things at different times,” Adam says. “Figure out what you need to improve or execute on at that exact point in time.”
Being aware of their business’s purpose and direction keeps Adam and his team moving forward.
“We're best when we're on the offensive--when we have a very clear idea of what we're trying to do, and doing it in a forward-thinking way,” he says.
To hear the full Origins episode of the Future of Supply Chain podcast that features Adam, click here.